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Local SEO Guide in 15 Steps: How to Find Hidden Opportunities

1. Check For Google Penalties


The first step is the easiest place to look for a hidden opportunity to help your rankings skyrocket. Is your website currently under penalties from Google?

To check for penalties, your website must be connected to the Google Search Console. If it is not, you, or the owner of the site, must first connect and verify.

Log in to Google Search Console as a site owner and select the website you want to audit in the search property.

Screenshot of the Google Search Console, August 2022

Then, in the sidebar on the left, click on Security & Manual Actions and select Manual Actions.

Screenshot of the Google Search Console, August 2022

If it says, “No problems detected,” great!

If it says anything else, there’s your first batch of problems to fix.

2. Run A Keyword Audit

This is your first exciting dip into discovering hidden opportunities with local SEO. There is a lot you can discover and improve in this step!

For this step you will need a list of keywords you are trying to rank for.

You can probably derive some of these keywords on your own.

For example, if you own a bakery in London, this is already a relevant keyword candidate – “bakeries in London”.

Once you’ve discovered your keywords, check them for two things:

Let’s start by exploring keyword rankings.

How To Discover Keyword Rankings

First, you need to find out if your website even appears on a search engine results page (SERP). Your ultimate goal is to appear on either page 1 or the 3-pack.

You can try to google the keywords from your keyword list one by one, but it will be faster to use an SEO tool and check them all at once.

Screenshot from, August 2022

Simply scan your site ranking in WebCEO’s Rank Tracking Tool.

The settings of this tool allow scanning in specified locations, which is just what we need for local SEO.

It can even discover more interesting search results like the local package, hotels or knowledge panel.

Once you have received the report, see the column position in SERP; they show where your site is ranking.

It also doesn’t hurt to check the Local Monthly Searches column, as it shows how often users type these keywords into Google.

If any of these columns are not in the report, press the Manage Columns button to add them.

Screenshot from, August 2022

Now, let’s analyze your keywords for user search intent.

How To Discover Keyword Search Intent

Search intent boils down to understanding what potential shoppers type into Google to get different results that match what they want.

For example, a shopper might “Buy blue iced baby boy sugar cookies in London” – this type of search has a “transactional” intent. You want to make sure your keywords benefit transactional or commercial intent.

So, ask yourself these questions:

Now that you understand your position within keyword searches and the intent behind those keywords, you now have the information you need to change your content strategy to boost your website’s ranking.

3. Check Your Google Business Profile

To start, do you or your client have a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing?

If not, that’s really bad news for your local SEO. Fixing this is a really quick win for local search efforts, making it a great hidden opportunity!

When you do, log in to your Google Business Profile and discover:

Is Any Information Missing From Your Google Business Profile?

An empty field in GBP is a hole in your local SEO. All fields should be filled in with correct, up-to-date information about the business:

Are Keywords Present & Used Properly On Your Google Business Profile?

Keywords (especially local) in your GBP are a huge ranking factor.

They can make sure your business appears in Google’s very competitive local pack.

The catch is, you can’t just put it in the title and call it a day: that goes against Google’s guidelines, which require the use of the real name of the business.

However, craft owners simply include keywords when naming their businesses. It is a perfectly valid loop that meets both the guidelines and the ranking algorithm.

The only thing to worry about is making the name natural.

Screenshot from Google, August 2022

Relevant keywords should also be included in the GBP categories. Putting them in the description is optional, although encouraged.

Are Photos & Other Images Uploaded On Your GBP?

There are several images that you can upload to your Google Business profile. The more you have, the better.

It goes without saying that all images should be of high quality.

Even videos deserve a mention as another type of visual. If there are, look at them and see if you find any problems.

What Is The Posting Activity Like?

GBP allows you to create posts to communicate with your target audience. Check out the post activity on the page.

Posting once a month is considered a minimum, so ask yourself these questions:

Frequent and diverse posts can ensure that this feature is used efficiently. It is also good for posts to include links, photos and geo-mentions.

Is There An FAQ Page?

An FAQ is a powerful asset to any website, and customers are guaranteed to have questions.

4. Find On-Page SEO Issues

On-page optimization is incredibly important, so it’s a great hidden opportunity – especially if your competition isn’t doing this.

We admit that it can be a lot of work, and there is also a lot of room for error, but if you get it right, you can come out on top!

Don’t waste time dealing with problems. Find them all in WebCEO’s On-Site Issues Overview Report.

Screenshot from, August 2022

This tool scans all site pages at once, so you’ll be able to catch any on-page SEO mistakes.

For a local SEO audit, here are the most important topics to keep an eye on:

Of course, all other issues shown in the report should not be ignored. They all negatively affect site ranking.

5. Perform A Backlink Audit

Backlinks are the most powerful ranking factor of all, so there is a hidden opportunity to rank higher than your competition.

Backlinks can make or break your SEO, even if you’ve done everything else right. No SEO audit is complete without a backlink analysis, and local SEO is no exception.

So hurry up. Scan your link profile with WebCEO’s Backlink Checker.

Screenshot from, August 2022

Once your report is complete, it’s time to evaluate your backlink profile.

Based on this analysis, you can fix the flaws in your client’s link building strategy.

6. Evaluate Your Online Reputation

A local business lives or dies by its reputation among customers. Good thing we have the internet, right? There is no place like it to find out what people think about you, and lose all sleep over it.

Hopefully, your customers will sleep well after you are done with this step. What should you check for?

Collect Reviews For Your Website & Potential Keywords

Any self-respecting local business should collect customer reviews on its website. Positive and negative reviews, detailed feedback – be sure to pay attention to everything. A review is especially valuable when it comes to ranking keywords for your site.

The review section of Google Business Profile is another place you cannot overlook. And if your client has created listings for their business on any review platforms, be sure to check there as well.

Be Sure Ratings Are Included In Your Reviews

Where there are reviews, there are usually star ratings on the same page as well. In fact, paired, they are very good for SEO.

But it’s also common for business directories to show rating scores separately from user reviews.

If your client’s website appears in Google’s local pack, this is the fastest way to see your client’s reviews. Of course, a thorough local SEO audit will require more information from other locations.

Get Notified When Your Brand Is Mentioned

Everyone wants their brand to be the talk of the town. Problem is, there’s only so much you can hear with your own ears and so much self-googling you can do on your own.

Fortunately, there are tools to get the word out on the e-streets.

Who, where, what and when – Find all your online mentions with WebCEO’s Web Buzz Monitoring Tool. Just add the keywords related to the local business whose SEO you are auditing (its name will do best). The tool will show you the sites and tweets where it was displayed.

Improve Social Media Engagement

If your client has created social media pages for their business (as everyone should), you need to check them out as well.

How do you know if they are running well? Give your verdict by answering these questions:

As a rule of thumb, a lot of activity (from the owner and users) on a social media page is good. If you find problems there, write them down.

7 – 15. Download The Free Local SEO Guide

Want even more expert tips for a DIY local SEO audit?

Download your local SEO guide below. With this and pro-level SEO tools at your fingertips, you can evaluate the local SEO status of any website – be it yours or your client’s.

This guide was created exclusively for WebCEO users. Sign up now to enter the world of experts!

The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

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